Saturday, August 2, 2008

Barbie Beach vs. Waffle House

Outside of Turin, Georgia, we passed Barbie Beach and decided it was worth a turn back. Underneath the banner with the red white and blue windsock stood about 20 naked Barbie dolls on a manmade shore. “They’re going to win the beach volleyball Olympics,” Linda Quick told us. “They just got back from the Atlanta Gay Pride Parade.”

We caught Linda and her presumptive husband Steve in the middle of designing what can only be called an art installation right on Highway 16. They had just hung the Olympic sign and hadn’t yet begun pumping the water into the minipool. As we got back in the van I saw Linda unfurling a miniature volleyball net.

This is why you stay off the interstate,” Paul commented as we drove away.

“Exactly,” was my reply.

We were a tenth of the way from Columbia to Corpus Christi and an hour into our drive for the day. The only reason we weren’t on the interstate is that we’d just spent the night in a Victorian
mansion in the town of Jackson, where we’d made a slight detour to see Marshall, an old college chum of Paul’s, and his wonderful wife Pam. Marshall and Pam are professors living in Fresno, CA where they teach Classics at a small private college. He is descended from a long line of southern matriarchs who’ve owned this Victorian manse since it was built. They’ve spent the summer celebrating their 10th anniversary traveling to places like France and Vietnam. The culminating event was a visit to Jackson, GA (which should clue you in to just how beautiful and charming Georgia can be, I reckon).

You may never get to see something like the Barbie Beach if you travel by interstate, but as Winnie and I learned on our Paris, USA trip last summer, it’ll take you five days to cover two hundred miles (largely because you’ll be compelled to stop every fifteen minutes and take pictures of curiosities like Barbie Beach). If you have only a finite amount of time to, say, drive 1,200 miles pack up all your worldly possessions and drive back in time to close on your new house by August 11, then you need to take the interstate.

Years ago, when Paul and Marshall and Paul’s brother Charles drove several thousand miles of interstate up to Alaska to fish for the summer, they invented a distraction called The Waffle House Game. The rules are simple: If you see a Waffle House, you want to be the first to say “Waffle House.” You say it loudly and quickly. First one to call it out gets the point. When you call out “Waffle House” you MUST have sighted the actual restaurant, not a billboard or some highway sign that anticipates a Waffle House at the next exit. You get one point for each correct sighting, and lose a point for each false sighting or premature claim.

The game, you might imagine, is viciously intense. Passengers can negotiate whether or not the driver will temporarily halt the game if
passenger is sleeping, but don’t count on it. I learned the hard way that game founders can be especially uncompromising about the game and any privileges pertaining thereto. Newcomers have very few (if any) rights. And some people think it's fair to apply strategic use of 18-wheelers at freeway interchanges to put passengers at a viewing disadvantage.

Winning the game will be the end in itself.

We just arrived in New Orleans and after about 600 miles on the road, the Waffle House score is 23-21. Paul’s leading, but not for long.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

my friend jessica and i invented a game called "Remember When" during the infamous drive across S. Dakota on I-90 which entails coming up with some obscure memory from our childhood that the other person would not remember - thus earning you a point....